Fourteenth-century church in Bulgaria’s Nessebur re-opened after US-funded restoration

US ambassador Eric Rubin, Nessebur mayor Nikolai Dimitrov, Tourism Minister Nikolina Angelkova and Deputy Culture Minister Amelia Gesheva officially re-opened on November 8 the 14th century mediaeval church St. John Alliturgetos in Nessebur after completion of a four-year restoration and preservation project which cost $706 000.

The US embassy said in a statement that in 2014 it worked with the Nessebur mayor’s office to commission necessary restoration and preservation work for St. John Alliturgetos Church using the Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation.

Tourists in Nessebur will now be able to closely view the church and its interior while the architectural details and ceramo-plastic decorations remain carefully preserved.  New signs describe the history and importance of this famous Bulgarian cultural site, the statement said.

“Anyone who has visited Nessebur – whether sailors on a ship hundreds of years ago or tourists just this summer – this church is an iconic symbol of an ancient place.  It stands prominently overlooking the Black Sea, its rich colours beckoning to visitors, and its history tells us about the many people and cultures that have called Nessebur home over the millennia.  However, we know that the Black Sea is unforgiving, and centuries of wind and water took their toll,” Rubin said.

“We agreed to fund this restoration project because Americans believe that preserving and protecting cultural treasures is a shared responsibility. Working together, we continue to strengthen the cultural ties between our two countries through projects like this,” he said.

This project joins many others that the US embassy to Bulgaria has sponsored since 2002, including conservation of two fourth century Christian tombs in central Sofia (currently at the National History Museum); preservation of the fourth century BCE Thracian Tomb of Kran II in the Valley of the Thracian Kings; restoration of the 17th century Kurshum Mosque in Silistra; preservation of third century mosaic floors in the ancient provincial capital of Philippoplis (modern-day Plovdiv); and, preservation of the early 19th century library and Mosque of Osman Pazvantoglu in Vidin.

In October 2018, Rubin announced that he will use the US Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation to restore, conserve, and modernise display of Bulgaria’s Sveshtari Thracian Tomb – a Unesco World Heritage Site.

Together these projects total $1 084 380 invested in Bulgarian cultural heritage by the US embassy, the statement said.

(Photos: US embassy)



The Sofia Globe staff

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